42% of Austrians think Hitler rule wasn't all bad

Poll finds that 54% think neo-Nazi groups could be successful in Austrian elections if there wasn't a law banning them.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 9, 2013 15:18
1 minute read.
Adolf Hitler with Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Chancellor of Austria  in Vienna, March 1938.

Hitler with Chancellor of Austria 370. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Forty two percent of Austrians think "not everything was bad under Hitler," while 57% think "there was nothing positive about the Hitler era," according to a poll conducted by newspaper Der Standard that was published on Friday.

The poll was conducted among 502 eligible voters in Austria and published ahead of the 75th anniversary of the country's annexation by Nazi Germany.

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61% thought the country adequately dealt with its Nazi past, while 39% thought more should be done.

Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938, and a debate still smoulders on whether Austrians were Hitler's first victims or willing accomplices. Austria's Jewish population was nearly wiped out in the ensuing Holocaust.

54% answered that neo-Nazi groups would be successful in the Austrian elections, if there was no law banning them.

In January, an Austrian court  sentenced a leading neo-Nazi figure to nine years in jail for his role in launching an extreme-right website that glorified Nazism.

Gottfried Kuessel, 54, had denied any wrongdoing and told the court he had turned over a new leaf since serving a previous jail term for neo-Nazi activity, which is banned in Austria.



But heeding prosecutors' description of Kuessel as a prime leader of the extreme right, the jury voted 5-3 late on Thursday to convict him. Two other defendants got sentences of seven and four-and-a-half years.

Jewish leaders have warned of late against what they called creeping tolerance of anti-Semitism in Austria.

A rabbi said in September that neo-Nazi soccer fans had verbally abused him while police looked on, and a far-right politician drew criticism from the country's president for posting a cartoon on his website that was widely seen as anti-Semitic.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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